- NotGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/not -

Chad Billingsley Has “The Heater You Can Live With”

Posted By Robert J. Baumann On June 26, 2012 @ 4:05 pm In Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Ok, so after a full year of working in my basement office at Woodland Pattern Book Center, I finally noticed this decal on a (possibly nonfunctional) heating unit:


Download, print as stickers, and apply where appropriate.

Of course, I immediately interpreted the phrase with my baseball brain: “The Heater You Can Live With” is a heater (a fastball, and, in my mind, a four-seam fastball, specifically) that is passable, that gets the job but is not overwhelming; a heater that chips in but upon which a pitcher is not overly reliant; a heater that, looks like the average of all heaters in the game, so as not garner attention, but like I said, is still capable of getting an out, or setting up other pitches, or even causing the occasional whiff.

With the generous help of Jeff Zimmerman, I compiled data to look for the most average four-seamer that I could find based on Usage (FA%) Velocity (vFA), Horizontal Movement (FA-X), Vertical Movement (FA-Z), and Whiff Rate (FASwgStr%).

The table below includes the Standard Deviations from the Mean (a crude “z-score”) in each of the aforementioned categories from 2011-2012 (minimum 100 heaters thrown and at least one whiff). I then averaged these “z-scores” and ranked the top 25 pitchers:

Name Team Age Z-avg SwgStr%z FA%z vFAz FA-Xz FA-Zz
Mark Melancon - – - 27 0.4839 0.0569 0.0488 0.2655 0.0358 0.0768
Chad Billingsley Dodgers 27 0.5368 0.1779 0.2591 0.0759 0.0239 0.0000
Casey Janssen Blue Jays 30 0.5481 0.0304 0.1771 0.0948 0.1075 0.1382
Roy Oswalt - – - 34 0.5745 0.0113 0.0952 0.0569 0.3344 0.0768
Jason Isringhausen - – - 39 0.6769 0.1007 0.2021 0.2086 0.0119 0.1536
Tommy Hunter - – - 25 0.7148 0.4112 0.0987 0.0190 0.1552 0.0307
Francisco Rodriguez - – - 30 0.7379 0.2184 0.0952 0.1138 0.2030 0.1075
Shawn Kelley Mariners 28 0.7468 0.2146 0.3254 0.0379 0.1075 0.0614
Jeremy Hellickson Rays 25 0.7556 0.2250 0.0011 0.0569 0.2269 0.2457
Tim Lincecum Giants 28 0.7630 0.1845 0.0417 0.0948 0.2269 0.2150
Matt Guerrier Dodgers 33 0.7690 0.1757 0.4516 0.0190 0.1075 0.0154
Zack Greinke Brewers 28 0.7713 0.0303 0.1344 0.2465 0.1911 0.1690
Jose Arredondo Reds 28 0.7779 0.0956 0.1379 0.0000 0.0836 0.4608
Jason Hammel - – - 29 0.8032 0.1959 0.0595 0.3414 0.1911 0.0154
Jordan Lyles Astros 21 0.8211 0.2805 0.0153 0.1517 0.3582 0.0154
Joakim Soria Royals 27 0.8226 0.3822 0.0759 0.0948 0.0239 0.2457
Graham Godfrey Athletics 27 0.8228 0.2014 0.0296 0.3034 0.2269 0.0614
Anibal Sanchez Marlins 28 0.8332 0.0754 0.4551 0.0569 0.0000 0.2457
Josh Roenicke Rockies 29 0.8380 0.2528 0.1329 0.3414 0.0955 0.0154
Yovani Gallardo Brewers 26 0.8484 0.1597 0.0652 0.2276 0.1194 0.2765
Matt Cain Giants 27 0.8637 0.3504 0.0474 0.0190 0.3702 0.0768
Logan Ondrusek Reds 27 0.8721 0.2434 0.1843 0.2465 0.1672 0.0307
Mat Latos - – - 24 0.9447 0.1360 0.0595 0.3414 0.1314 0.2765
Vicente Padilla - – - 34 0.9506 0.2146 0.0118 0.2465 0.3702 0.1075
Gavin Floyd White Sox 29 0.9700 0.3514 0.1700 0.0000 0.4179 0.0307

It’s nice to notice that the vertical movement on Billingsley’s four-seamer is exactly the mean (at least of the sample used). That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t possess vertical motion, it just means that if you mapped it out with all the other four-seamers, you wouldn’t really notice it. It’s nice to notice this because I’m choosing to overlook Mark Melancon’s Z-avg and give the very first hypothetical “The Heater You Can Live With” badge to Chad Billingsley — because I think it just seems more appropriate to give it to a starting pitcher.


Because it pleases me.

Why didn’t I just limit the data to starting pitchers, then, you might ask. Well, because I thought it would still be interesting to see which relievers have the most average four-seam fastball. And because I do what I please; I pay you no mind.

You might also ask, Why is this on NotGraphs? It’s full of numbers! Z-scores! Sortables! Sundry maths! Jeff Zimmerman! I assure you, save the data produced by J.Z. (on Whiff Rates), the numbers here were manipulated in such a clumsy manner as to make NotGraphs proud. Plus, it coins a phrase! It provides ephemera! It has provided no statistical insight whatsoever!

Ok, ok, back to my mini helmets


Article printed from NotGraphs Baseball: http://www.fangraphs.com/not

URL to article: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/chad-billingsley-has-the-heater-you-can-live-with/

Copyright © 2011 NotGraphs Baseball. All rights reserved.